Today we’d like to introduce you to Tenaya Figueira.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I guess this story really began when I was three years old. Like lots of little kids, I was enrolled in gymnastics and ballet. And it really stuck! In fact, I’ve been involved in some form of organized movement ever since. I had a pretty lengthy relationship with ballet but decided that if I wasn’t going to be a professional ballerina that it was time to move on. Which led me to samba and African dance – I know the pendulum swung pretty far didn’t it?! I was very into hip hop throughout college and into my 20s – I actually joined a hip hop dance academy while studying abroad in Barcelona and traveled almost two hours to get to class three times a week! Now that I’m actually thinking about it, I realize just how dedicated I was to this hobby of mine! While living in San Francisco, I hopped around between a few different dance companies and spent most of my non-working hours at class or rehearsal. It was there, somewhere in the middle of all the crazy head-whipping we were doing, that I hurt my neck. And kept hurting it (go figure 😉). My chiropractor recommended that I try a barre class to work on core strengthening and spinal stability. I remember giggling my way through my first barre class because it was so hard.
But, my body was hooked. Not only did I gain the strength I needed to prevent further dance injuries, I went through a pretty big physical transformation, finally shedding my extra college pounds, and toning in places that I never had before. I began teaching barre part-time in 2007 for The Dailey Method. When my sales job moved me from SF to LA, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to open my own studio, as there weren’t any Dailey Methods in the Los Angeles area yet. My bestie-turned-business-partner, Michelle Lazarus, was monumental in getting our studio up and running, which we did in early 2012. The studio was on Abbot Kinney Blvd, which if you’re not familiar with the area, is a pretty rad location! We had an amazing nine years there and were in the middle of selling the business to take some time off to be with our families when Covid came along. Unfortunately, it just made the most sense to close our doors and leave the franchise at that time. All of this took place while I was supposed to be on maternity leave with my second child. When he arrived, I took a couple of months off of teaching but returned to my own movement practice pretty quickly as it just felt right. I started playing around with creating a new class format, one that drew from both my dance background, as well as my extensive training in barre. Michelle was doing the same.
A few friends and old clients asked if we would teach classes online during the pandemic, and, eventually Thrive Project was born! Ultimately it’s meant to be a more comprehensive wellness platform and a collaboration amongst lots of different talented individuals, but for right now, we’re focusing on the movement classes aspect of it and developing things at a pace that is manageable with little ones in tow. At the moment, Thrive Project is four women teaching classes six days a week, ranging from Barre to Cardio to Pilates. Last week we moved some of our classes outdoors, where we’re teaching with headsets, silent-disco-style! Whether we’re teaching outside or livestream, we’re known for cultivating community, and offering lots of verbal adjustments to keep our students aligned and safe.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I mean I basically started at the beginning of my life so yes, there’s definitely been struggles along the way! Making the initial leap of faith to put all of our savings into starting a barre studio with a franchise that no one in Los Angeles had ever heard of was a big moment! I’d always had another job, in fact I never really considered that one day movement would turn into a career for me…and it was tough to start the passion project while also holding onto a full-time sales job. Keeping the studio afloat on Abbot Kinney with a landlord that was constantly threatening to double, or even triple, the rent and force us out was challenging. Navigating relationships with my loved ones while being under so much pressure at work was really, really tough…and I think it’s nothing short of a miracle that Michelle and I were able to stay best friends while owning a business together! I don’t think that would have been possible with anyone other than Michelle.
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Success for me is being able to create balance in my life. I tend to lean too hard into work and let other aspects of my life suffer, so I’m trying really hard right now to find balance between work, being a mother, wife, nurturing my own needs, etc. On days when I’m able to take care of both myself and others and get some work done, I feel very successful! And with the business, I feel it’s successful when people continue to show up to class. There are now literally a MILLION options out there, but if they choose us, then we must be doing something right!
- All Access Membership $89/Month
- On-Demand Only $39/Month
- Single Virtual Class $15
- 5 Class Package $60
- Outdoor Class $25
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://www.yourthriveproject.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/movement_classes/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thriveprojectmovementclasses
Laine Foreman Julia Yang